September 4, 2008


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There are myriad reasons to love Kyushu. There is the perpetually flickering sign. There is the “Special Roll for Special Customer” section of the menu. There is the really cool trick with the egg that the hibachi chefs perform. There are the near-constant gatherings of students around the hibachi tables, and there are the inevitable handles of liquor scattered among the tables.
Only at Kyushu can you bring a group of 8, drink three bottles of Gold Label and eat filet mignon and shrimp for $20 a person.
But regardless of the near impeccable service, the BYOB policy and the bowl of Dum-Dums by the door, Kyushu also has some of the best sushi in Ithaca (many on the aforementioned “Special Roll” menu). It also has one of the nicest and most accommodating owners I’ve encountered in Ithaca (need a table for 12 in 10 minutes? No problem at Kyushu!).
As the only hibachi restaurant in Ithaca, Kyushu entertains you as you eat (or rather, as you watch the theatrical preparation of your meal). If you’re not feeling the hibachi tables, there is ample seating in the remainder of the restaurant, including a sushi bar (also entertaining, but lacking the egg trick that I love so much).
The filet mignon and chicken hibachi is my personal favorite, served with a country’s worth of fried rice, crisp vegetables, a few shrimp as an “appetizer” and ample steak and chicken. The lobster hibachi is fresh and delicious, as is the plethora of sushi options offered on the overwhelmingly large menu. The most expensive item on the menu tops out at about $30, for lobster and steak, and most sushi rolls average around $10.
Kyushu is a popular place for both first dates and Greek events, and for good reason. You can get as drunk and rowdy as you want (which doesn’t work out so well at John Thomas — the chairs are tippy), and still enjoy a nice filet (not quite JT, but it comes with shrimp! And lots and lots of delicious soy-saucy fried rice!). Located in the lovely strip mall that is also home to Applebee’s and Hollywood Video (adjacent to the Ithaca Mall parking lot), Kyushu is worth the trip for a fun, inexpensive and tasty meal.
Additionally, as if it wasn’t good enough, Kyushu automatically gives you a fork with your meal, without you having to ask (what other Japanese restaurant does that? None!). I once spent two weeks practicing eating with chopsticks before a first date at Kyushu, only to arrive and have my date inform me that he didn’t know how to use them. While I opt for the chopsticks myself these days, the fork option is great. Especially when eating the fried rice.